My professional goal this year has been to make Visible Thinking (as a form of documentation and through the use of routines) an organic part of the classroom. This has meant introducing and using pre-selected routines throughout the year: I emphasized five in the first semester and have introduced two new routines (so far) in this second semester. The reason for this is so the kids learn some ways to organize and develop their thoughts with guidance, the intention being that the routines are used independently when students are ready in a way that supports deeper thinking.
The great thing is: it's working! Some students use the See Think Wonder routine as a graphic organizer for pre-writing; some used the Think Puzzle Explore routine on a walking field trip we took to see how solar energy is transformed for use in our school; some used the Colour Symbol Image to respond to a short movie we watched in class. They use them! I could think of more instances when the kids have used these routines independently, without prompting, and that's the beauty of it. So now that they're more comfortable with a few routines and I see their thinking really starting to change - from surface level to so much deeper - offering more choice is only natural.
This semester we've been focusing on Chalk Talk, which is like a silent conversation on paper. This routine makes for a great interactive bulletin board for students outside your classroom, too! The Micro Lab Protocol is another, which promotes valuing ideas and reflecting on the thoughts of others. Focusing on collaboration and communication have become really important in our classroom culture, so it's a natural fit. More to come on how we've used this routine!